Firearms have passed cars as the most common cause of injury death in Children and Young People; AAP calls for Public Health Approach to Save Lives
During June, as children and teenagers are again out of school, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is calling for unity to help parents and pediatricians prevent gun injuries and death. In June, the AAP will participate in National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange Weekend (June 3-5) and other campaigns to raise awareness of this important public health crisis.
During the pandemic, firearm death increased rapidly, by 28% from 2019-2020, the most recent data available, from 7,947 gun-related deaths in 2019 among children and young people, ages 24 and younger, to 10,197 in 2020.
“Often following mass shootings, like recent shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, there is national outrage about the tragedy and calls for answers. Unfortunately, many more children, teenagers and young people are dying every day in shootings that don’t make the national news or start a national debate,” said Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH, FAAP. “We as a country need to take a public health approach that mixes safe storage of guns at home to keep them out of the hands of children and teenagers and common-sense legislative approaches that reduce the incidence and impact of community violence.”
For decades, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death among young people. In 2017, after decades of safety improvements in automobiles and increasing numbers of guns in homes across the country, guns became the most common cause of death.
“Gun injuries are the most common cause of death for children,” said Dr. Lee, incoming chair of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. “However, there is plenty of reason to be hopeful that we can change this trend. Just as years of hard work by legislators, doctors, auto manufactures, activists, engineers, and families lowered auto-related injuries and death, gun injuries can also be reduced.”
In 2020, the murder rate with handguns was the highest it has been in 25 years. According to CDC data, between 2019 and 2020, the firearm homicides increased by 35%, and among children and young adults, there was a 38% increase firearm-related murders from 2019-2020 from 4,608 in 2019 to 6,360 in 2020. And 85% of all homicides of this age group were committed with a gun.
The AAP recommends :
The Academy is urging lawmakers to advance policies to protect children, families and communities from gun violence. AAP is calling on lawmakers to:
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.